My Dinner with André

1981

My Dinner with André (1981)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

AUDIENCE SCORE


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Movie Info

The quintessential "talk" film. Theater director Andre Gregory meets his old friend actor/playwright Wallace Shawn at an upscale New York restaurant to catch up on each other's lives. Gregory has travelled the world in search of alternate methods of creative and spiritual expression. Shawn plays straight man (and devil's advocate) in this unusual conversation and reminds Gregory of the more down-to-earth pleasures of New York life. While Shawn is a pragmatist, he is understandably impressed by Gregory's exploits. The screenplay was also written by Gregory and Shawn, a "best-of" collection of several tape-recorded conversations between the two. Director Louis Malle provides appropriately minimal direction. Gregory, Shawn and Malle collaborated again in Vanya on 42nd Street.

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Cast

Wallace Shawn
as Wally Shawn
Andre Gregory
as Andre Gregory
Roy Butler
as Bartender

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Critic Reviews for My Dinner with André

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (1)

[Shawn and Gregory] are simply carriers for a thrilling drama -- a film with more action than Raiders of the Lost Ark. What My Dinner With Andre exploits is the well-known ability of the mind to picture a story as it is being told.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

This scripted literal "conversation piece"...was also acutely self-aware and just as much thought-provoking, offering a progressive cinematic paradigm... [Blu-ray]

Jul 3, 2015 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The dining duo struggle with words between bites, groping for a recipe summoning the meaning of life. And in a movie that redefined as a surprising and inventive enduring classic, both leading man requisites and filmmaking conventions.

Mar 18, 2013 | Full Review…

My Dinner with Andre is often celebrated for its audacity, but has now reached the point where it deserves similar credit for its prescience.

Oct 14, 2011 | Full Review…

(It) is a downright transgressive film because it brazenly allows its characters to just talk. Actually it allows Andre to talk and, just as importantly, for Wally to listen.

Jul 25, 2009 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

... an intellectual bull session as cinematic performance piece...

Jul 16, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for My Dinner with André

½

There isn't really much to say about "My Dinner with Andre" other than that it's a simple, dialectic piece of filmmaking that feels like a play. It's a conversation between two interesting people who are educated, slightly enlightened, but forever questioning of the structure of the universe. Ebert has said, "Someone asked me the other day if I could name a movie that was entirely devoid of clichés. I thought for a moment, and then answered, 'My Dinner with Andre.'" This may be because of its unassuming concept, but also because there really is nothing like this film around. Some people find the conversation boring and the mood morose, others think the political and socio-economic values of the conversation are too opposed to their own ideals. To love this film you must love dialogue, subtlety, and the sweet surrender of the theater. Otherwise this film will bore you to tears. If you philosophize, wonder, or debate the many merits of the universe, this is a film that will speak to you on an atomic level. I myself found the two men interesting, but not fascinating, and that's a good distinction. You want to feel like you yourself could speak about travel, morality, and the sanctity of art, or else you're lost. I felt right at home among the good food, good friends, and the New York streets passing by during the ending cab ride home.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

"Tedium" is the only thing on the menu -- served raw.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

First, the truth: this film put me to sleep 4, count 'em, 4 times of trying to watch it (but it was good sleep). Ahh, but the 5th's time the charm wherein I made it through to discover this overlong conversation between two distinctly different types of lives about their differences wasn't too awful after all. The first part, less conversation than monologue, will have you snoozing comfortably once you get the drift ("... the life of an adventurer/vagabond ... its the only way to live!!"). Only when Shawn stops merely listening and opens up his can of psuedo-intellectual whoop ass (" I don't think you have to go to Mt.Everest to have a meaningful experience, I think you could do it right in the local cigar store if you were meaning to!") does the thing catch fire.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Two men talk about the proper way to live. I am having trouble deciphering whether I didn't like this film because of how much I disagreed with Andre, who has free reign over most the screen time, or because the film, through Wally's eventual conversion, seems to support Andre's views, or because it was poorly made. I think a little of all of the above is the best answer. Andre's pseudo-Buddhist sensibility suggests that "just being" leads to not living in cocoons which he contends is what most people do. Of course, there is some merit to this view, but from all we know about Andre's life, it's hard to believe that he practices all he preaches. After all, this is a man who has traveled to India, Poland, and a few other places I can't specifically remember; he speaks longingly of a kind of "christening" in Poland, during which he was blindfolded, stripped naked, and nearly buried alive. And he's arguing for asceticism. It's like a whore arguing for chastity. One of Wally's rare moments of protest features him suggesting that one might do well to achieve things, do shit. And Wally's protest is weak because he fails to suggest that the cocoons they think people are living in couldn't be caused by a lack of ambition rather than a lack of "being." As a film, it would have been better served by balancing the conversation. This is a monologue by Andre, not so much a conversation. Although I disagree with Andre, I can see some valid points to his argument, and those points - indeed the subject as a whole - would have been better served by fully examining the contrary. I think only after we hear the full argument can we make an informed decision. Overall, My Dinner with Andre is an admirable idea - I'd love to see more films so simply built, just two people talking about philosophy - but Andre's dominance of the conversation is just as over-whelming as the content of this speeches.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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